Beating up on beat-ups at The Tele. Another day, another complaint about political reporting in The Daily Telegraph, which was forced to run a Press Council ruling on page two today after the Greens contested against the story titled “Political support comes at a price“. The article, from May 11, spoke of how the Greens and the independents had been essentially paid off by the government in the latest federal budget in return for their support, including that “the Greens have managed to force the government to take money away from repairing the east coast after the summer of natural disasters”.

But the Press Council disagreed. Says the correction in today’s Tele (sadly not available online, although perhaps this will change after the media inquiry?):

“The council has concluded that there was nothing in the article that supported the assertion that money was taken away from repair of the flood damage to refund the cited programs, or that the Greens had “forced” a change.

The newspaper did not provide any support for that assertion in its correspondence with the council. The assertion was inaccurate and remains uncorrected. The complaint is therefore upheld. The council also considered that it was a pity that the party and the newspaper could not come to an agreement on a way of redressing their differences.”

Ironically, the Press Council ruling appeared right next to a news article on the inquiry, just under the strapline “Muzzling the media”.

The Tele correction comes just one day after an article in The Australian Financial Review by Michaela Whitbourn outlined how Simon Benson produced a front-page Tele story “Carbon tax plan to hit bus, train commuters” on July 15.

As we reported yesterday, the key points of the brilliant Whitbourn article are that the national political editor of The Daily Telegraph hatched a story idea and a conclusion in one: the carbon tax will have such an impact on public transport tickets that commuters will return to their cars. And that political minders of Barry O’Farrell were then dispatched to prove pre-written tabloid headlines, although their own Treasury department data contradicted the planned story. The facts used in The Tele article were cooked up by O’Farrell’s office based on the “upper end” of Transport Department data, although the article said they were from NSW Treasury.

Interestingly, Simon Benson — along with Gemma Jones — ran another story the day after the public transport one about how the “Electricity bills under a carbon tax will rise by more than double what the federal government has claimed — adding as much as $300 to an average family’s yearly bills — according to forecasts by NSW Treasury officials”. Hopefully those NSW Treasury documents are a little more legitimate …  — Amber Jamieson

The Australian loves an exclusive. Prominent, sure, but exclusive?

Not quite. From The Sydney Morning Herald today:

The Age of new recruits. Six (lucky?) young journalists were recruited by The Age yesterday. Editorial boss Paul Ramadge wrote to staff:

From: Paul Ramadge
To: AgeEditorial
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2011 12:55:38 +1000
Subject: Editorial trainees


I’m pleased to announce that we have appointed six new editorial trainees as part of the editorial reinvestment strategy. They are:

Henrietta Cook, 24

Reporter on The Canberra Times. Melbourne Press Club Young Journalist of the Year 2010.

Vince Chadwick, 24

Freelance reporter published in The Age and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jane Lee, 25

AAP reporter in Sydney. Previously a business reporter at Multi-media experience in video and audio.

Craig Butt, 24

Digital producer at the Melbourne Press Club. A website developer with a strong interest in data journalism and data visualisation.

Nathan Partenza, 23

Cadet journalist on The Border Mail, Albury, with good reporting experience.

Georgia Wilkins, 26

Journalist and former online editor at The Weekly Review, Melbourne. Reporting experience in Moscow and Cambodia.

They start in the newsroom on October 31.


Paul Ramadge
The Age

Digital challenge for The Oz. The Australian is looking for a new digital director — but has appointed an acting director in the meantime. The announcement from COO John Allan:

Staff Announcement — Appointment of Mike Robson as Acting Digital Director, The Australian

You may be aware that Adam McWhinney recently resigned as Digital Director of The Australian to purse the opportunity to join a start-up. Adam has made an outstanding contribution to The Australian and has been pivotal in helping his team, editorial and the wider business drive our digital growth objectives over the past 14 months. We’re sad to see Adam leaving us and wish him well in his new business. Adam’s final day with us is Friday 23rd September 2011.

I’m pleased to announce that Mike Robson, currently Associate Product Manager, has agreed to take on the role of Acting Digital Director. The change is effective immediately.

Mike will ensure that we remain on track for the delivery of our digital subscription strategy whilst contributing to the wider management team of The Australian. Many of you already know Mike, who has been part of our digital team for the past year. Prior to joining The Australian Mike spent three years with NDM as Senior Producer on, two years at Yahoo!7 as Assistant News Editor (Frontpage) and eighteen months as News Producer at The Guardian in the UK.

Over the next two weeks Adam will complete a handover to Mike — if you have meetings and discussions scheduled that involve Adam please can you also include Mike.

Mike will work along side Nic Hopkins and Grant Holloway in a business as usual manner.

We shall commence the recruitment process over the coming week for Adam’s permanent replacement.  Suitable internal candidates can forward their resume to Helen Calladine, Recruitment Manager at [email protected]. For external candidates the position will shortly be advertised on CareerOne when you conduct a job search under News Limited.


John Allan
Chief Operating Officer
The Australian

The Department of Corrections. Today’s The Citizen from South Africa carries an amusing story about an embarrassing correction that fellow South African newspaper Soweten was forced to carry on its front page today:

Conroy floats a government-funded media regulator

“Senator Conroy confirmed a single media regulator overseeing all print, online and broadcast media could be one of the changes to flow from the government’s independent media inquiry launched yesterday.” — The Australian

Inside the campaign to change News Corp governance

“After the biggest global blitz of bad publicity ever to hit a major public company, the 2011 News Corporation AGM at Fox Studio in Los Angeles on October 21 is shaping up to be a corporate governance event to remember.” — The Age

No HD for AFL grand final

“AFL fans may be in for a rude shock with confirmation that this year’s Grand Final will not be screened in High Definition.” — TV Tonight

Politicians could be barred from ruling on media mergers

“UK Politicians could be barred from making decisions on media mergers under measures to be included in a new communications bill, the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said.” — The Guardian

Peter Fray

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